New London expects months of training
By Scott Bellile
The city of New London will consider employing two city clerks for at least half a year so outgoing clerk Susan Tennie can train her successor.
City Administrator Kent Hager told the finance and personnel committee back in February that Susan Tennie “has given her very forward notice of retirement” set for April 2018.
“An organization our size, she wears a lot of different hats, and several of them that could get us in a lot of trouble if we had somebody that didn’t know what they were doing up front,” Hager said. “One of those in particular we all should be concerned about is election law. You have elections, you have a lot of them going on, and you have to be trained and know what you’re doing, or you make a big mistake.”
As clerk, Tennie works the front window of city hall. Her duties include answering visitors’ questions, administering public records, managing license and permit applications and overseeing municipal elections.
City Finance Director Judy Radke said Tennie performs many tasks that the rest of city staff possesses neither the knowledge nor time to complete.
Seeing as the city is currently employing a consultant to perform a staff-wide compensation analysis, Radke suggested having the consultant help in determining a job description and salary. The city could begin the hiring process in June or July and have the new clerk begin in September.
Radke told the finance and personnel committee when she initially proposed to Tennie having her replacement train with her for six to eight months, Tennie’s reaction was, “Are you crazy?”
Radke explained to the committee the length of time would provide the new clerk several elections to work under Tennie’s guidance before she retires.
“She wants to set that person up for success and not failure, and that is probably one of the most stressful parts of that job, is to make sure that that election runs smoothly and correctly,” Radke said. “You know, everybody is looking at elections nowadays and they want to question everything that those people are doing and how it’s working.
“If that person is still quite green when she leaves, she would be willing to come back for elections but does not want to work a lot when she retires,” Radke said.
Radke said there would be enough work to keep both clerks productive. There is a backlog of projects Tennie would mainly work on in her final months, such as organizing the office and writing a manual for city clerks.
“Sue would not be sitting here with nothing to do,” Radke said. “Sue couldn’t handle nothing to do. But she would still be there for the new individual for questions and anything like that.”
Tennie told the Press Star there are no prerequisite educational requirements for New London’s clerks. All training takes place on the job. However, she said having a job applicant with previous small-town municipal experience and election experience would be a plus.
She said being a city clerk is a busy but fun role to serve. She’ll have been in her position for 31 years come April.
“I love my job – I just don’t want to work so hard anymore and put in all the hours that it takes to get the work done,” Tennie told the Press Star. “My husband Dave is retired and he [is] patiently waiting for me to join him to start crossing items off our [bucket] list.”